It's a bit of a full circle moment, Sidney Prawatyotin admits, recounting his days interning and then working at PAPER back in the '90s. Now he's the subject of magazine journalism, having gone from publicist to in-demand creative director who has collaborated with brands including Alexander Wang, Brandon Maxwell, Burberry, Coach, Jacquemus, Kitsune, Louboutin, Miu Miu, Moncler, Nike, Opening Ceremony and Proenza Schouler, just to name a dozen.
Prawatyotin's work began and continues in large part on Instagram, where his account @siduations intertwines the high fashion with the everyday. Lady Gaga in her 2019 Golden Globes Valentino Couture... but on a moving walk at the airport. Timothée Chalamet in his Golden Globes Louis Vuitton Glitter harness... but at Folsom. Anna Wintour at the 2018 Met Gala... with Pope Francis in tow. Dua Lipa in Marc Jacobs for a recent Elle editorial... but emerging out of a cellar door. The possibilities are limitless.
Though high-fashion Twitter gets GQ profiles and shout-outs in the New York Times, high fashion Instagram is an equally important mechanism in the fashion social cinematic universe thanks to accounts like @siduations, @heyreilly, @sainthoax, @portiswasp1 and more. Prawatyotin's background is more atypical for the industry, having never used a camera and with no photo editing skills in his arsenal. Instead, it's his deep love for fashion, creative stimuli and the joy derived from making others happy that granted him this second act of his professional life. That, and the fact he didn't know how to make a real website.
"They're just mock-ups for photoshoots or ad campaigns, things that I would do if I knew how to use a camera, had budget for a model, had a stylist, hair and make-up, location, everything," he says of his oeuvre. "But since I don't, I thought these were a great way to showcase that."
Find out how @siduations all began, Chloë Sevigny's unexpected role in its creation, and what Prawatyotin thinks about people sharing his work without credit (spoiler alert: he doesn't care) below.
Before this chapter of your life began you were working as a publicist. Talk to me about what your professional life was like at that point?
I was trying recently to think of the common denominator out of all the things that I've done. Being a publicist. Designer. Working at PAPER even. And it was storytelling. What I got to do when I was a publicist was work with designers and help convey their stories to the audience or to the press or to customers. And it was fun, creating the actual story and working on shows with them and sometimes even editing collections with them. It was all about how to tell their story. And I think that's what I'm doing now, I'm telling a story through images instead. It wasn't something I went to school for, it just happened accidentally. I just felt like I was onto something and just kept working on it and progressed. But there's a downside too: once I get bored of it I'll quit and start doing something completely new. [Laughs]
Before all of that, how did you initially fall in love with fashion?
I've always liked characters. TV characters and movie characters. I think that it was maybe growing up being a first generation American. My parents are Thai, so growing up in New York City... I think I escaped a lot by just watching TV and movies to see how Americans lived. Because my parents were definitely not living like the typical American family. Like they were just Thai folks living about in the Upper West Side [laughs]. They're still there. So with the characters... it was just fun to dress up and pretend to be someone else. Or discovering how to fit into different tribes. And I think fashion is one of those ways. You dress a certain way and you belong to a certain tribe. It was easily distinguishable. I would be hanging out in Washington Square Park and seeing the goths, the skaters, the emo... they weren't called indie yet, but the indie kids, and the punks, all types of different tribes gathering in one area. And the way you could tell them apart was how they were dressed.
How much did the club scene influence your aesthetic?
You mention being drawn to characters. Were there real-life characters in the fashion world that captured your attention?
I think Jean Paul Gaultier was the first one, even though he's not like a Karl. When I say not like a Karl I mean he wasn't... on camera all the time. I discovered Gaultier through Madonna with the Blond Ambition World Tour. I even went to her show. I bought a ticket at 13 years old on my own and I took the bus to the Meadowlands Arena to watch her. And I fell in love with the outfits: the cone-shaped bras, the pin-striped suit with the slits, everything. When I discovered him I started digging and looking at all of his sketches and thinking, "This guy is a genius." So I start sketching my own Jean Paul Gaultier outfits. Or my own outfits, but the way he used to sketch them. And then I just kept on drawing.
So let's talk about @siduations. I like to start from the beginning. It's February 2017 when your first post goes up — or at the very least, that's the first post on your feed at present. It's Senator Bernie Sanders and his head is superimposed onto an image from the Balenciaga FW17 collection, which was itself inspired by Bernie Sanders. So really a reference on top of a reference. Where did this idea come from?
So what had happened was [laughs] when I moved to LA I had nothing to do. I didn't know how to drive, and I still don't. I didn't have a job anymore. I left that career back in New York. I felt like I was retired. So I did my best to do one creative thing a day. And I've always loved photography. I just didn't know how to use a camera properly. Or lighting. So I just started to use Photoshop, and play around with image editing. And it was mostly to send to friends. I would send a message like, "Hey Evan, wish you were here," and I would put you walking down the street. Or sitting in my living room. So then I accumulated so many of these images and my friends were sharing them on their personal feeds that I decided to see if I can become [laughs] an Instagram influencer or something like that. I just needed a gallery to post all my images and hoping that maybe I can get a career in creative directing or something. And then a couple weeks later I started getting inquiries for interviews. And then a month later I got a job request.
When did you start to realize that this could be a more long-term project?
I still don't. There's no school or handbook for this kind of stuff. I was just happy that I was getting paid to do something that I was having fun doing.
What do you consider this account? You're making art, and the canvas is Instagram. And so I'm curious if the medium changes its definition. I referred to it as a project, but that seems too diminutive. Do you have a nomenclature that you use?
When I created the account I couldn't create a website. I tried taking some online coding classes so I could pull all of these images onto a website and send it out to companies and have it be an online portfolio for prospective job opps, but I didn't get too far. So I decided to start @siduations and use it as my portfolio. I consider it a gallery. I think my first interview called it a meme and I've never considered it a meme. They're just mock-ups for photoshoots or ad campaigns, things that I would do if I knew how to use a camera, had budget for a model, had a stylist, hair and make-up, location, everything. But since I don't, I thought these were a great way to showcase that.
Now, you have a Chloë Sevigny story as it relates to the account. Can you recount that?
Well, I made her an image. I didn't make one for her. Well, I made one for her; she didn't request it. I was texting her and I was like, "Oh my God, this would be so funny if you were like holding a basketball or something." So I just put a basketball emoji over an image she had sent me and she posted it on her feed and then, of course, she gets a lot of likes because, duh, she's Chloë Sevigny. So when I saw that I thought maybe I should start doing more of these.
I'm sorry, you were texting with Chloë Sevigny?
Oh yeah, we grew up together. I think I met her when I was 14 or 15 in Washington Square Park. There was a whole group of us hanging out in the park and then I ran into her at NASA and she was with one of my other friends and we just kept going out after that. And then I saw her at the clubs and thought, "We should just hang out." So we started to hang out, like she would sleep over my house because she was in Connecticut at the time. And sometimes I would go over to her house on the weekends. We were just going out. Being kids. And then Kids happened two or three years later. So I've known her for a long time.
Has running this account made you pay attention to fashion more than you already were?
When I left fashion I realized that there are only really four or five designers that I really keep track of. Maybe 10. I always thought that fashion was kind of funny. Like you'd see stuff in editorials but then wonder, "How do you wear this in the real world?" And once I moved to LA and was going shopping at the malls, I just didn't see people dressed up like this. So I thought it was funny if I just took one of the runway images and stuck them in a Target or an In-N-Out. I also think I was sick of feeling like those in fashion were above everybody else.
How much are you thinking about the shareability of your images? Because one unique capability in having your gallery be on Instagram vs. a website or IRL is that these images can be easily disseminated.
I don't think I sound cool or anything by saying this but I think about it a lot [laughs]. I fell into that Insta trap where I think, "Okay, if I make this am I going to get a lot of 'likes'?" because yeah, I want to be liked. Who doesn't? I do think about it a lot and I take a lot of things into consideration, that being one of them. In the beginning I wasn't really thinking about that, I was just reading the comments and seeing what people think. That was interesting. And there were trolls. But I kept those on there because it was interesting to see the different perspectives. Like what I had in my mind when I made the image vs. when I post it and people see it differently. I get really excited when I see that.
How have you dealt with what I imagine is an inevitable but no less troubling by-product of this work, people sharing your work without credit?
Oh it's fine. I mean think about: I'm using found images that I often don't even know where I found them. So whenever reshare something of mine it's all good.
You have only 600 posts in over three years. To some that might seem like a lot, but to me that's pretty tight curation. Are you thinking about frequency a lot, or infrequency?
I think about that a lot actually. Like, I posted something this morning and I was already thinking, "Shit, I have waited two hours later." But I'm not basing that off of anything. I'm just basing it off of some arbitrary post from a couple of days ago that I did at a certain time and it got some likes. But I actually had more than 600. I went in and took out a lot of it just because I think I found my niche. When I first started it was just doing one creative thing a day. And there was a lot of play on logos, and a lot of what @HeyReilly and @SaintHoax do. It was focused on fashion, but it looked similar to what the other Instagram artists have on their account. And I was okay with that. But then when I realized what direction I wanted to take it in I started to archive a lot of those older images just because I would get inquiries about doing work of that type and that wasn't really where I wanted to go. The feed right now just looks like high fashion people doing normal things. Except for the Bernie one. I kept that. Because I think he's cute in those pictures.
Related | Why Do Weed Products Look so Luxe Now?
Do you have any favorite Instagram accounts?
I actually don't have a favorite. Pretty much everyone that I follow. I think it's a marriage of all of these accounts on one app that I like. Like if I just saw pictures of myself all the time, my work, I would be so frickin' bored. But I like the curated mix of different accounts that I have on my feed. I like looking at it all.
Welcome to "Wear Me Out," a column by pop culture fiend Evan Ross Katz that takes a look at the week in celebrity dressing. From award shows and movie premieres to grocery store runs, he'll keep you up to date on what your favorite celebs have recently worn to the biggest and most inconsequential events.
Photos courtesy of @siduations